Monday, May 30, 2011

The Grand Play-Dough Experiment: Baking Soda Play-Dough

This week I completed our evaluation of the Traditional Play-Dough recipe. Why it's called "traditional" I'm not sure because I had never seen a recipe similar to this one. It's just baking soda, cornstarch, water, and food coloring. Most recipes that I consider traditional are salt doughs, but that's just quibbling. ;)

Adding in the recipe here, since there are no guarantees that the link will work forever:

Traditional Play-dough

2 cups of baking soda
1 and a half cups of water
1 cup of corn starch

Mix with a fork until the mixture is smooth and boil until thick. Takes about 4 minutes.

It was super easy to make: just mix the cornstarch and baking soda (Note: I did a half recipe since we don't need a boatload of play-dough).
 Add water, mix well, add food coloring. My daughter requested orange play-dough (her current favorite color), so orange it was!
 Warm over medium heat until it boils. It will heat VERY quickly, I wasn't prepared for that and almost burned it. It came together extremely quickly. It took fewer than 5 minutes from mixing the water in and starting heating to the picture below.

I kneaded it and loved the texture, but I also noticed lots of residue left on my work surface:
 And that the play-dough's surface seems to dry out easily:
The drying slowed down as the play-dough cooled.

Summary of initial impressions:
-very easy and quick to make
-boiled at a low temp, make sure to not burn it!
-nice texture
-unusual ingredients
-outside dries out while sitting
-leaves a heavy residue on play surface that is tough to clean
-don't think it's going to last long

Week later:
-Nice and soft
-Kind of wet, but that may be from storing it away while it was still warm
-Leaves a LOT of residue; I feel like I have to wash my hands almost as soon as starting to play with it.
-Surface dries out a bit but not nearly as badly as at first (more humid day?)

Looking good so far! I am surprised, but pleased.

Almost two weeks later:
-It molded! Gah!!!! Nasty! Guess I either stored it wrong or it was just too moist. The recipe contains no specific storage instructions, but this might be one of the play-doughs that needs to be stored in the fridge.

Gross, gross, gross!! Into the garbage!

Final verdict: I do not plan to make this play-dough again. It left too much residue to be easy to clean up after, it still dried out a bit which just isn't nice to feel, and then it molded!


Other posts in the Grand Play-Dough Experiment Series:
Kool Aid Play-Dough
Coffee Play-Dough
Gingerbread Play-Dough

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What I'm up to...

I don't have a real blog post for this week, so I thought I'd just show off a few completed projects.

Spit-up cloths, a space theme...
Another set of spit-up cloths with Tigger, frogs, cars, trains, and robots...
A cute bag for a friend...
And I've begun a second bottle of homemade vanilla. Mmmm!

Maybe a real blog post next week!


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pretty Ironing Board Cover

 I having been looking for a cute ironing board cover for a while. I finally took it upon myself to make one because I just couldn't find what I wanted. I took tips and ideas from two other ironing board cover tutorials.  This one is more thorough and a bit more involved. This other is a bit more simple.

-2 yds of fabric (for my 53 inch ironing board)
-5 yds twine or string
-coordinating thread
-typical sewing stuff

Ironing fabric--always a good way to start a project. (Note: I always pre-wash and dry my fabric, too.)
Then I laid out my fabric on my cutting board and laid my ironing board on top of it.
I measured the depth of my ironing board...
and decided how much of a hem and lip I needed to hold the cover securely. I added 1.5 inches.
And then cut it slightly larger (because I'm really bad about cutting things too small).
All cut out.
I turned it under 3/4 an inch, pinned it...
and then ironed the edge down. I found it easier to work with the curves with them nicely ironed.
After the initial ironing, I turned the raw edge of the fabric under to meet the fold and began to tuck the string into it. I pinned the hem closed to hold the string in. I believe this is much easier to do this way rather than trying to feed the string around an already-sewn channel.
All folded and strung! This is the "back end" of the cover (not the pointed end).

I marked the center (the vertical line) and measured the positions for the button holes so that they would be evenly spaced.

Button holes sewn! They aren't perfect, but they're going to be under the bottom of the ironing board anyways.
Cut them open (carefully!), threaded the string through them and pinned the channel to make sewing easy.
Then I used my zipper foot to run right along the string and close it in nice and securely.
Of course, I didn't think about which side the zipper foot would have to be on, so I faced all of the pin heads the wrong way! Oops!!
But otherwise, sewing the channel was super easy and I finished it quickly. I tied off the ends of the string to make them prettier.
Laid out the finished cover....
...and cinched it around my cover. It fit perfectly. I had to work some wrinkles out by moving the fabric along the cinched string, but eventually it all laid tight and smooth.
 I tied the strings into a bow and tucked them up under the backside of the cover. All done!
Now go make your ironing board pretty!


Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Grand Play-Dough Experiment: Kool Aid Play-Dough

My daughter has recently discovered the wonders of play-dough. I like regular, store-bought play-dough, but there are so many fun recipes out there that I thought it would be a travesty to not try at least some of them. So, I give you my eventual series of posts (assuming I keep feeling well): the Grand Play-Dough Experiment!

I plan to make a different play-dough every couple of weeks, evaluate it a bit the first week, then eventually update the post to include how long it lasted and final impressions of that recipe. If I do not evaluate an aspect of play-dough that is important to you, please feel free to leave a comment asking for that info. I will be happy to update the post as long as the play-dough is still fresh enough to be worked with (or I happen to remember the details you desire).

This week we made Kool Aid Play-dough. I will add the recipe here because there are no guarantees that links will work forever.

Kool Aid Play-Dough

1 cup water
3 teaspoons of Cream of Tartar
1 cup of flour
1 package of Kool-Aid Mix (any flavor of unsweetened)
1 tablespoon of cooking oil
1/2 cup of salt

Mix dry ingredients in a large/medium pan. Add water and oil. Stir over medium heat until it looks like dough. Whatever the color of koolaid used should be the end result. This takes about 8 minutes. This recipe is 100% edible and can be eaten immediately.

We used a grape packet...
 Warming the water.
 Newly mixed dough.
 After kneading a bit (I ended up needing to knead it for quite a while to get it to a good, consistent texture).

Initial impressions:
-easy to make
-other flavors of kool aid would smell good, but I can't stand the grape smell
-nice, deep color
-color stays in the dough (only very slight staining on my fingers during initial kneading)
-grainy, but improves with kneading and playing
-leaves a residue on the hands and play surface (but easy to clean)
-nice and soft

After playing a while:
- I CANNOT stand the smell of the grape flavor
-still slightly grainy after playing with it several times this week
-storing well at room temperature

A note from a friend who loves kool aid play-dough: "the 'blue raspberry' and 'lemonade' (or lemonade blends) of kool-aid packets do NOT work well, way way too sticky."

After two weeks of play and storage:
-Very nice, smooth texture. All graininess is gone.
-Smell is still there.
-Color is beautiful.
-Still soft and moist. Doesn't dry out during play.

After almost a month this play-dough is still going strong (and still smells, too!).

After 6 months, this play-dough has not yet gone bad. However, it has become extremely sticky. I tried kneading it in some flour and it remained pretty sticky. I think it's time for us to say good-bye to this play-dough. I'm sure it could be saved but it probably isn't worth the effort.

Update on 7/18/12: I have made this recipe several times and it has become my favorite. Our daughter loves mixing all the dries together and then watching as it changes color when we add the water. It's definitely a great recipe!


Other posts in the Grand Play-Dough Experiment Series:
Traditional (Baking Soda) Play-Dough
Coffee Play-Dough
Gingerbread Play-Dough